The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Mistletoe

Words: Barry Cornwall

Source: Henry Vizetelly, Christmas With The Poets (London: David Bogue, 1851).

When winter nights grow long,
    And winds without blow cold,
We sit in a ring round the warm wood fire,
    And listen to stories old!
And we try to look grave (as maids should be),
    When the men bring in boughs of the laurel tree.
        O, the laurel, the evergreen tree!
        The poets have laurels, and why not we!

How pleasant, when night falls down,
    And hides the wintry sun,
To see them come in to the blazing fire,
    And know that their work is done;
Whilst many bring in, with a laugh or rhyme,
    Green branches of holly for Christmas time.
        O, the holly, the bright green holly!
        It tells (like a tongue) that the times are jolly!

Sometimes (in our grave house
    Observe, this happeneth not;)
But at times the evergreen laurel boughs,
    And the holly are all forgot;
And then what then? why, the men laugh low,
    And hang up a branch of the mistletoe!
        Oh, brave is the laurel! and brave is the holly,
        But the mistletoe banisheth melancholy!
        Ah, nobody knows, nor ever shall know,
        What is done under the mistletoe.

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